Not unlike his Brooklyn counterpart, Nas has way too many memorable features to whittle down to a list of 10 without omitting a few key winners. Still, the task of poring through his catalog, listening to sixteens ranging from Queensbridge grimy to Trackmasters glossy, was a fulfilling one. Comments section, start your engine, TSS presents Nas’s top 10 guest appearances.
1. N.O.R.E.’s “Body In The Trunk”
Nas and N.O.R.E. have great chemistry when they’re not assaulting one another with flower pots. The QB native seamlessly weaves in and out of his Lefrak compatriot’s verse with vivid detail as they figure out how to deal with the freshly murdered corpse joining them on their grim ride.
2. Mobb Deep’s “It’s Mine”
“Halle Berry blew a kiss at the Barbara Streisand concert.” What a picture. I don’t mean a picture you hang on a wall. I’m talking about something you view in a packed theater. Escobar’s contribution to Mobb Deep’s Scarface-inspired track is so cinematic you can almost see the pink gators, silk shirts and million dollar miscreants thumbing their noses at the establishment.
3. Kool G. Rap’s “Fast Life” (Remix)
Nas plays the new liquid metal Terminator, to G. Rap’s older but still effective Schwarzenegger on “Fast Life.” His ability to recall realistic vignettes of life in the hood and splice them with fanciful descriptions of wealth and criminal enterprise remains unmatched by his few peers, and past legends.
4. Jay-Z’s “Success”
Who else could take a jab at a former rival (“enemies wanna be my best friends”) on said rival’s comeback album and still not spoil the momentous occasion of two NY Giants both playing on the same side of the ball?
5. Rick Ross’ “Triple Beam Dreams”
Every time Hip-Hop fans try to intern Nas’ body into the grave of irrelevance, he comes through with a verse that reminds the world of his legendary status. At once reflective, materialistic, hopeful and angry, this verse stands up to the best in his catalog.
6. Missy Elliot’s “Hot Boyz”
Letting his Queensbridge roots shine through, Olu’s baby boy is as brash as ever here. From chopping up bodies to get rid of evidence to flaunting gaudy jewelry, Nas’ “Hot Boyz” feature is not the typical addition to an R&B track, but then again, Missy Elliot ain’t the average R&B singer.
7. Mobb Deep’s “Eye For An Eye”
Not one to be shown up, Nas still manages to stand out amongst career top-10 verses from Mobb Deep and Raekwon. This was the world’s introduction to Nas’ Escobar alias, and damned if he didn’t make a statement.
8. R. Kelly’s “Did You Ever Think” (Remix)
When Nas hooked up with the Trackmasters for his sophomore album, many hip-hop fans thought he brushed his waves a little too hard and somehow damaged his brain. A classic LP later, the New York wordsmith rejoined the It Was Written producers along with a certain Chicago soul. The result was the best of both worlds, before The Best of Both Worlds.
9. Raekwon’s “Verbal Intercourse”
Widely believed to be the best guest appearance by any artist in hip-hop history, Nas’ contribution to Raekwon’s classic debut album is flawless. The photorealistic imagery combined with a virtuosic display of flow and timing results in a perfect verse.
10. Main Source’s “Live At The Barbecue”
This is when most of us first heard the voice that would captivate us for two decades. So much has been said of his lack of reverence (I mean “went to hell for snuffin’ Jesus?” C’mon.), but I always think about the effortless manner in which a teenaged Nas stood next to a group of some of the most well-respected emcees of the era and completely washed them without breaking a sweat.